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  • Writer's pictureJay Hicks

Pensacola Beach in the Winter?

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

Have you experienced the snow white sand of Pensacola? It's true, you won't find whiter sand anywhere. But should you go to Pensacola Beach in the winter?

You may have considered going to Pensacola Beach in the past. But if you’ve never been, it’s certainly worth the drive, time and modest price. There are bargains to be found if you know where to look, especially in the off season.

You will probably have the beaches to yourself along with mild weather, during the off-season. When the winds are blowing from the south across the golf of Mexico you may experience wonderfully warm days even in the middle of winter. It’s quite possible to have fantastic walks in December and January along the gorgeous white sandy beaches with just a light jacket....and no tourist.

Everyone has heard of the sugar white sand and the crystal clear water. But it’s one thing to hear about it and quite another to experience it. With brilliant sun shine and many locations for picnicking along the Gulf Island National Seashore, a great time can be had by any visitor for a little money, almost year round.

If you have an extra hour or two, you can visit the star shaped Fort Pickens, a historic United States military fort on Santa Rosa Island a few miles west of Pensacola Beach. Fort Pickens was completed in 1834 and was one of the few forts in the South that remained in Union hands throughout the American Civil War. Fort Pickens was used through WWII and remained in use until 1947. A tremendous number of trails and short climbs to batteries make for an exciting day for families and friends.

If you desire to eat out, there are plenty of restaurants that will certainly provide a quality meal for a good price. One of my favorites is Peg Leg Pete's on Fort Pickens Road. Here you can find old Florida charm with lots of delectable seafood. I have never found better oysters on the half shell with the best prices in Florida. Great grouper sandwiches, large shrimp prepared the way you like them, snow crab legs and steaks for the land lover. If you are hungry and budget minded, this is the place on the beach to eat.

If you desire and inexpensive breakfast, I highly recommend the Native Café (45A Via De Luna Dr.,

Pensacola Beach). Lots of New Orleans style items on the menu with some of the finest shrimp and grits in the region. Just get there when the doors open 7:30, as the locals know this place well and there are not that many tables. Lunch is nice as well. Mahi Mahi Tacos and great burgers are served for lunch. Of interest is the good local art is for sale, hanging on all the walls. The Native Café closes at 2:30, so go early.

Don't miss the great picnic areas near Gulf Breeze at the Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve, which is also part of the Gulf Island National Seashore. This often overlook recreation area, has an informative visitor center and 7.5 miles of hiking trails through coastal habitats. This is a very inexpensive and pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Ahh…… The tourist season. Expect crowds!

Yep! Expect crowds on the weekends especially holiday weekends... from about May 1 through Halloween. If you find yourself feeling crowded leave Pensacola Beach to the east on Via De Luna, heading towards Navarre along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Entrance is free and you will quickly find yourself alone on this 12 mile drive, which arguably has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The ride is rated as one of the top beautiful rides by travel magazines every year.

Driving from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach through the Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. Few buildings, few facilities, but miles of sugar white sand and blue green water. ~Tripadvisor

So next time you’re thinking of a beach journey, consider Pensacola Beach. Even better, go in the winter. The area provides a tremendous opportunity for enjoying phenomenal white sand at a comparatively great value. You might even get to see the Blue Angles practice for their home town!

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